This trip was my first ever time on a large ship like this, as I have always been based inland and never taken to the seas! With that said, I really enjoyed this trip and feel like it was a positive first experience.
With the coast of Ireland well in view, the first recording session on the approach to Dublin was through an angry sea, with some movement to the ship which caused me some discomfort, so I took a bit of time to rest in my cabin which helped a lot.
Rob managed to keep upright and carried out the survey into Dublin, though there were very few seabirds about, and no cetacean sightings were possible amongst the white caps! The highlight was a Great Crested Grebe, flying in front of the vessel as we drew into the two lighthouses at the mouth of the Liffey. A small number of Black Guillemot in their black and white speckled winter plumage buzzed about as the ship drew down towards its berth.
Once in Dublin, Rob and I did some bird watching as the Seatruck crew began their work to unload the waggons. We saw several Light-bellied Brent Geese feeding on the shore, while we also got in some identification practise on the Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Herring Gull, and Lesser Black-backed Gull. There were several Cormorant and Shag, both diving and flying past, and it was also nice to see my first Hooded Crow - Rob told me that all crows in Ireland are the hooded variety!
The chilly breeze drove us back into the passenger area where we were generously provided lunch by the Steward, which proved much more appetising than breakfast had been in a heaving sea at 07.00.
Shortly after lunch we were permitted back up to the bridge, and never having been on a bridge before, what an experience this was! The view from the bridge was incredible!
The trip back out from Dublin was much more comfortable, and having such an expansive view of the sea was such a great privilege. It was great to be able to use the ship's instruments to note the specific position data from the ship's monitors.
Despite this being my first ever survey, I quickly picked up how to record the various elements of the data that MARINElife needs, and Rob gave me lots of guidance and instruction. At the end of the recording session, we agreed that I was proficient in the use of the recording methodology.
On our trip back the bird activity was not too high, but it was enough for me to spot the small numbers of Fulmar and Gannet as well as three Grey Seal which were spy-hopping as the ship passed by.
I am extremely grateful to MARINElife, and to Captain Jaak Kalm and his Seatruck colleagues for the whole experience, and for allowing me to attend this survey trip as a Trainee Surveyor. I am looking forward to getting involved with another trip in the future!
Callum Lowe and Rob Petley-Jones, Research Surveyors for MARINElife (Registered Charity No. 1110884; Registered Company No. 5057367)
Outward: wind SSW, force 5-6, sea state 4-5, visibility moderate
Return: wind SW, force 3, sea state 3-4, visibility moderate
Summary of Species Recorded
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus 3
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus 1
Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis 3
Gannet Morus bassanus 4
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 5
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 5
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 17
Common Gull Larus canus 5
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 2
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla 27
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 25
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 4
Greater Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 1
Guillemot Uria aalge 4
Razorbill Alca torda 43
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle 1
Auk sp. 3
Birds recorded in Dublin Port
Light-bellied Brent Goose Branta bernicla 4
Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo 4
Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis 2
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus 130
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus 1
Common Gull Larus canus 45
Herring Gull Larus argentatus 30
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus 3
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus 3
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle 11
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix 1
Peregrine Falco peregrinus 1